The Power Rangers franchise has been one of the most long-running series in television history. With various incarnations and storylines developed over the years, the series continues on and still has a legion of fans (young and old). What some fans might not be as aware of is that the original Power Rangers series would never have been developed had it not been for a certain Japanese television series: the Super Sentai season entitled Zyuranger.
Haim Saban, who is the producer of Power Rangers, created the series through the utilization of the original Japanese program which inspired it. He saw this series and thought it would be a successful show in the United States and wanted to adapt it. The footage was purchased, reedited, and utilized as needed for the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Throughout Power Rangers stunts, costumes, and some character-footage was reused.Technically, Zyuranger (1992-1993) is a standalone season in a larger universe of similar shows. This was, surprisingly, the 16th series in the Super Sentai television program. The story of Zyuranger surrounds a group of ancient warriors (who are noted as having evolved from dinosaurs) who utilize dinosaur-based weaponry and Guardian Beasts to try and stop the evildoing of Bandora the Witch. The Zyurangers were asleep for 170 million years and only awoke following the reawakening of Bandora. who was discovered and awoken by a couple of astronauts who found her in a magical container (which had a spell on it to stop her from doing evil). Once Bandora was back in action, the Zyuranger dinosaur warriors needed to come back to stop her and her minions and protect all of Earth.
The Zyurangers consisted of these team members: Tyranno Ranger (Red Ranger)/Geki, Mammoth Ranger (Black Ranger)/Goushi, Tricera Ranger (Blue Ranger)/Dan, Tiger Ranger (Yellow Ranger)/Boi, Ptera Ranger (Pink Ranger)/Mei, and lastly, Dragon Ranger (Green Ranger)/Burai, who joins them later in the story. Each uses their dinosaur style abilities to protect the planet and to stop Bandora.
Each episode of the series is pretty much a new spin on the Zyuranger taking on their arch-nemesis Bandora or some of her group of baddies. The Zyuranger team will transform and appear in their respective color-coordinated outfits, use one of their magical/mystical power abilities, and try and save the day. This concept is explored with over-the-top costumes, sets, special effects, and more uniquely creative production elements. It gives the series the charm needed. (The same kind of charm which led to the huge success of the Power Rangers).
Though the series is obviously the inspiration for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the series does take on some unique differences. The biggest difference can be seen in the way it was adapted to fit the culture of the United States. The shift from the fantasy elements being the forefront of Zyuranger to focusing on the school element and ordinary elements of life as a backdrop to the Power Rangers storyline is a big element that separates the two series. The original version also has a different style of goofy humor than the original.
Overall, Power Rangers fans will consider Zyuranger to be a nice addition to the understanding and appreciation of the Power Rangers universe. Technically, it's actually a piece in the larger history of Super Sentai programs from Japan. The cast has tremendous fun with their roles (especially lead Yuta Mochizuki) and the group of writers and directors take the series in decidedly silly but entertaining directions. The Zyuranger theme by artist Kenta Satou is exciting, catchy, and memorable as well. Fans of the Power Rangers universe who feel unfamiliar with Zyuranger should give it a chance as it's an entertaining, fun, and cool production which shares a lot in common.
The video is far from a disaster and should be reasonably satisfying for most viewers. The picture quality does seem somewhat faded and dated, but the line detail is good and the print doesn't show much in the way of damage. It's a consistently decent presentation (if not a stellar one). What Shout Factory has released is a presentation that is going to satisfy most viewers and it seems to be reasonably close in quality to the Japanese R2 DVD release. It's nice to even have the classic Japanese episodes on DVD (and with reasonably good English subtitles).
The audio isn't quite as good as the video. It all just sounds somewhat flat and uninvolving. The balance of the presentation just doesn't impress much. However, dialogue clarity is generally fine, and that is what matters most. This is a low-budget Japanese television series and expectations should be kept in check. I certainly think it's a modestly satisfactory presentation even if it is underwhelming.
In Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo with English subtitles.
The lone supplement on this release is the "Power Progenitors: Super Sentai Zyuranger" Power Morphicon 2014 Panel (27 min.) - The good news is that it's a nice panel discussion which will please series fans. Although several cast members were absent from the proceedings, lead star Yuta Mochizuki (Red Ranger/TyrannoRanger) was at the panel, as was a primary stunt person who worked on the Japanese stunts for the Red Ranger in Super Sentai Zyuranger and on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series from the second season through to the Turbo seasons.
The panel is quite a lot of fun and is done in good spirit. The participants seemed quite pleased to be there and to answer fan questions. There was a bit of an unusual approach to the proceedings because of questions being asked in English but then answered in Japanese or English, with the translator doing an inconsistent job with presenting the details.
On the positive side of the presentation, Shout Factory has subtitled the event themselves and the subs are much better at giving viewers a enjoyable panel experience (frankly, than it would have even been if you were there... unless you happen to know both English and Japanese fluently).
Fans will certainly consider this an interesting bonus feature. It is worth a watch. The actors add some nice details about the approach they gave to their performances, the process of making the show, and what it was like to be involved on the series which ultimately inspired the creation of Power Rangers.
Some Power Rangers fans might feel it's a bit odd to finally see the original Japanese series that started it all, but give it a while and you might just find that it's a solid series in its own right. It clearly was the origination point of Power Rangers. It's all there in the costumes, the style, and the action-sequences. These elements share a lot in common with the US version.
However, the series is also quite a bit different and viewers will find it interesting to compare and contrast the versions. For anyone who grew up watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this set is a great way to be introduced to the original series. Here's hoping to more Japanese Power Rangers/Super Sentai sets being released in the future.